Painting a Future of Peace with Former Child Soldiers

A multi-media artistic expression and documentary created by social artist Jeremy Cowart involving former child soldiers in Uganda.

Jeremy Cowart will partner with Exile International and Composite Films to document the prolific use of art therapy for former child soldiers and war-affected children in Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.  www.exileinternational.org

Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo are said to be among the worst places in the world to be a child.  Our project will show the untold story how art is changing the future of Africa.

So, What’s Happening in Uganda and Democratic of Congo?

In this area, boys as young as 7 are kidnapped and forced to fight in rebel armies. Many are psychologically tortured and brainwashed to commit atrocities against their own families. Young girls are abducted and abused, becoming victims of rape and sexual violence. When these children finally escape or are released, they are left with deep and lasting emotional scars from what they’ve seen and been forced to do. 


Our Goal:

       Visit + Listen + Give + Create More Art = Amplify

  • Amplify the voices of these children
  • Amplify funding for our project for 1 year of art therapy and peace program documentation in Uganda  and Congo to show how we can craft a different future for Africa
  • Amplify a future generation of leaders


Art About Art:

This is a trip where we will produce art about kids who use art.  The project will be in a country where art, music, and dance are a second language, a huge piece of the culture.

“When the children draw, dance, and sing…we see them come to life again. They begin to forget their wounds for a time.”

Project Deliverables:

Our project will span almost a year

Phase 1 - At the beginning of this project and during our first trip we hope to collect and create several signature art pieces for a traveling gallery exhibit with multiple showings. These pieces will be a part of the perks given out digitally to those that support us.  (see support section)

We will create traveling exhibits of the artwork, digital versions of the stories and artwork, and a short documentary-style, multiple media experience for the gallery exhibits and the web.

Phase 2 – Mid 2013 will mark preparing the release of the documentary highlighting insightful stories of art, music and a culture of art and how they are shaping the future leadership of Africa. The impact and amount we can do on this documentary depends on how much we raise in this campaign.  We will at least do a short documentary in phase two but We hope to exceed our giving goal to pay for a second trip to Africa and for materials for the classes so everyone can participate in the project over the course of almost an entire year.

Our first trip will be in September 2012.  We hope to make another trip in the spring or summer of 2013 to finish up and follow our story of leadership transformation through the use of the arts in Africa.

Jeremy Cowart will passionately create composite art works on the front half and the back half of these trips.   We will show our films and artwork along the way and debut the final film mid 2013.

What your support will create:

  • Photographs for a digital photobook:  Documenting the people, region, and their written stories
  • Drawings and Paintings:  Documenting the history and powerful future these children hope for.
  • Original Gallery Composites:  ‘Jeremy Cowart Original’ curated art pieces will be created on site with the children and will be featured in a special gallery exhibit in the United States.  We hope to help supply art materials to Exile centers so that we may watch and participate in the ongoing stories for a period of one year.
  • Documentary Feature Film revealing the passion, sounds, and vision of a powerful future these children have.  The film will be an inspirational story of children of war becoming leaders for peace while living in one of the worst places to be a child.   How much we raise here will determine our budget for this feature.

Jeremy Cowart will pair his passion for humanitarian storytelling with the art, photography, and filmmaking of this special project.

A special exhibit with unique work from the beginning project will be scheduled first quarter of 2013.   A special Documentary will expand the voice of Painting a Future of Peace and will also be released mid year 2013.

What is Different about our Story?

The story of child soldiers has been told by many organizations.  There are several great international aid groups working actively to end these conflicts in the African region.    The damage to the future has long been done.  These groups are working to stop the cycle.   

Our team and our story are concerned about the next phase.  The “what happens next” question.   We are telling this story about how these same children are becoming powerful leaders of the future.  The big difference in Africa is the substantial impact the arts have on crafting leadership of the future.  

Our ongoing passion for this project will be creating a sustainable and lasting impact on the viewer thru art – composites of art – and film that will perpetuate and celebrate a form of art that empowers child survivors of war to become their country’s next leaders for peace.   It’s a celebration of art.

There is no better way to create a strong future than through the use of art. 

Vision of Exile International - partners on the ground in Africa: 

Our vision for these children is not only that they survive war, but to empower them to be leaders of peace in their communities. We believe that the very thing they thought would kill them can bring life by teaching them to dream again. To be peacemakers.  We believe they are more than what they were forced to do or what has been done to them. In art and expressive therapy they find life again by walking through the rehabilitative process. They find redemption. We invite you into this story of watching pain become purpose. Stepping into a story of former child soldiers becoming leaders of peace, reconciliation, and forgiveness. It's magical. 

Funding for the Project and “Stretch Funding” for Peace Clubs and Art Centers: 

Funding to this project will go to pay travel expenses and production costs for the large format art composites and the documentary.  For nearly a year we will document weekly art therapy groups lead by local African counselors focusing on trauma care, forgiveness, peace-building, and leadership skills for former LRA child soldiers and child survivors of war. The Art and Rehabilitative House in Congo  would be used as a center to provide former child soldiers a safe place to have art therapy groups to paint, draw, create, and dance again. 

"Why do you dance in times of war? To chase away the fear."

Jeremy Cowart, Film Crews, Photography and Art Crews travel End of September 2012 .  We need your help to fund this project and firmly establish a cycle of art coverage for a period of nearly a year.  This includes materials for Art Centers and Peace Clubs in Uganda and the Congo who are our partners in this creative project.

The Future is Before Us:

We would love to invite you into this journey. To become a part of it and watch it unfold.  Empowering children of war to become leaders for peace.

The LRA painted their past. It's time for them to paint their future. 


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